Friday, July 17, 2015

quiet time

Those are words that I hear about or read about all the time.  "Quiet time".  It's different for everyone, isn't it?  I thought I'd share a little about my time with God in the mornings, and how I sometimes mess it all up or accidentally skip it all together.

They say the hardest thing about forming a new habit is actually making it a habit.  I've read that it takes twenty something days of doing something in consecutive order to make it a habit.  When you get to that point, though, having gotten through the twenty something days, it literally becomes second nature.  Like breathing.  But miss a day or two, and guess what?  It gets out of whack and you have to begin again.

I am speaking from experience.

I am one that cannot do the same thing each year.  Last year I read the Bible all the way through chronologically, and I was going to do that again this year, but I discovered quickly that I wasn't necessarily paying attention to what I was reading.  For instance, one day in March, I couldn't remember from which book I had read that morning.  I kept at it for a while, hoping to get past that, but I couldn't.  So I picked a new reading plan and started fresh.

But then that didn't last either.

Most mornings, I read from the book of Psalm and Proverbs.  I've also been reading through a lot of the New Testament.  I've kinda been all over the place, but as long as I am reading the word of God, it's okay.  There is not a way to mess that up.

I am also reading a book by Elizabeth Elliot, called Keeping A Quiet Heart.  I pray, I read in the Bible and I usually write in my journal about what stuck out to me, or where I've read.  I use the journal a lot to reflect back on, and to keep up with things like prayer requests, or something special that happened that I don't want to forget.

This morning my quiet time looked like this.

The book by Elizabeth Elliot, my journal and my Bible, all from the comfort of my recliner.  I spent the first part of my quiet time praying, and before I knew it, I'd accidentally prayed myself right to sleep.  Crash moved, though, and his nails on the floor woke me.  I started praying again, then read in 2 Corinthians, Psalm 149 and 150, and Proverbs 17.  I almost always read the chapter that corresponds with that date in Proverbs.

The reasons I write to you about this are simple.

One, God is good.  He deserves the best part of our day, but He also deserves our attention first thing each morning.  I realize that a lot of people are not morning people, and that's okay.  But even a non-morning person can get out of bed, have a quick time of prayer and read a few verses in the Bible.  There is always later in the day to go back and do more and dig deeper.  But God is good and He is worthy of praise and honor and respect, and we should always make Him our first priority each day, even if that means we have to sacrifice a bit of sleep.

One thing that my missionary friend Sheila in Iceland did when I was there stuck out to me, and I have since began doing the same thing each morning.  We shared a room with her while were in Iceland, and I noticed that each morning before her feet hit the floor, she would talk to God.  She would say, "Good morning, Lord!  Thank You for this new day."  That is such a simple thing, but it really stuck with me over the years, and I have taken to doing that same exact thing each morning.

Two, the Bible tells us to seek God first.  I take that literally, as in first thing each morning.  Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Before that verse, Jesus was preaching the sermon on the mount, and He was telling them not to worry about their lives, that if the heavenly Father loved the birds of the air, He would care that much more for His people.  (The precept student in me always has to explain a verse in its context, in case you were wondering why I wrote about the verses before verse thirty-three.)

The last reason I wanted to write about this is to encourage you.  Don't let sleep or Netflix or staying up late or texting or social media become an idol to you.  Don't let it take over your life, or replace your quiet time in the mornings.  It is never too late to start doing this.  If you feel like this is an impossible task, pray and ask God to help you.  When we ask Him to do things for us that help us grow closer to Him, and if it brings Him glory, He will answer that prayer.  For instance, He knows that I love to memorize Bible verses, because when I do that, the verses are literally on my mind all the time.  I have a hard time remembering sometimes, though, and when I go over the previous ones I've memorized, when I practice saying them out loud, before I start, I will ask Him to help me.

And He always does.

That's what I meant by asking Him to help us grow closer and bringing Him glory, and then Him answering that prayer.  I am not at all saying that God is like a heavenly genie in a magic lamp who answers every prayer we utter the way we want.  God will always answer prayer according to His will.  His will for us all is to know Him and love Him and to bring Him glory and honor.

(Unfortunately, that last part I had to write, because there are people in my life who think God is like that genie in a lamp.  And then when their prayer keeps going unanswered, their faith grows weaker and weaker until it may go away totally.  God will never ever leave us or forsake us, but we most certainly are able to turn our backs on Him.  So please know that God is just.  He is sovereign and His ways are far better than our ways.  He only answers prayers that line up with His will for our lives.)

I pray that this encouraged you in some way.  Love to all.

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